SGA grieving after losing baseball player in boating accident - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

SGA grieving after losing baseball player in boating accident

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Southwest Georgia Academy in Damascus Southwest Georgia Academy in Damascus
SGA baseball field, where Matthew Jernigan was a star player. SGA baseball field, where Matthew Jernigan was a star player.
Payson Trawick Payson Trawick
Thomas Vines Thomas Vines
Matthew Jernigan Matthew Jernigan
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DAMASCUS, GA (WALB) -

Counselors are helping students at Southwest Georgia Academy deal with a tragic loss.

Matthew Jernigan drowned while hunting on a day when classes were canceled because of the cold. Counselors met with SGA students Wednesday and will continue to help Matthew Jernigan's friends grieve.

Southwest Georgia Academy came together to share memories of 17 year-old Matthew Jernigan.

"This morning we all had an assembly together and prayed over Matthew's family and the boys that are still recovering Payson and Thomas," said Ben Nobles, baseball and basketball coach.

Matthew Jernigan, Payson Trawick and Thomas Vines were duck hunting on Lake Seminole Tuesday morning when somehow they were knocked out of their boat. Trawick and Vines swam to a nearby island, but Jernigan drowned.

Teel Massey says he was supposed to on the trip but decided against the idea.

"About 8:30 and they asked me if I wanted to go. I asked them if they knew how cold it was going to be and I said I'm not going to be able to make the trip," said Teel Massey.

Massey says he is trying his best to hold it together Vines and Trawick. He's says it is prayer and faith that is getting him through.

Jernigan was a junior in high school and but Massey says he taught him so much about life.

School was canceled Tuesday because of the cold weather. The headmaster of the school knows Matthew would be at school Wednesday if school had been in session.

"I wish we would have had school, but I feel this is part of God's plan and it was meant to happen, not that we all agree with it but there's a reason and something good will come from it," said Headmaster Matt Dalrymple.

Dalrymple says he will do all he can to make sure Trawick and Vines don't go through the grieving process only.

Friends and staff say Matthew loved life and was active in school sports.

The baseball field was a place Matthew could shine and show his talents. He was the number one pitcher and played shortstop for the team.

Matthew Jernigan's baseball coach says he was a leader and his teammates will miss his presence in the dugout.

"It's just a horrible feeling I pray that I never have to go through it again and not just for me, but for my players losing a teammate," said Ben Nobles.

Counselors spent the day helping students cope with the tragedy.

"I encouraged them to share stories and talk with each other. Matthew would want that. He was a kid that could walk in a room and light it up. He always had a smile and a story to tell, said Leslie Godwin, counselor.

Administrators say counselors will be available as long as they're needed.

Thomas Vines and Payson Trawick were released from Donalsonville hospital this morning.

The funeral for Matthew Jernigan will be Saturday, January 11 at 3 p.m. at the Southwest Georgia Academy baseball field.

Visitation will be Friday, January 10 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Friendship United Methodist Church in Donalsonville.

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